Elishama, and how he became #1 of his prom

16 April 2024|Rozine Irabaruta and Paula Casado Aguirregabiria

Related: Education, Kenya

Elishama Kyssado Paluku is a seventeen-year-old refugee student from DR Congo living in Kenya. He was born as a refugee in Kenya in 2005 and lives with both his parents and his two siblings, who are fifteen and twelve years old.

His achievement? Is to graduate high school as the first one in his promotion,  despite the challenges and difficulties encountered.

I became top of my class because of my hard work and because of God’s will
Elishama Kyssado
According to Elishama,

“Living in Kenya as a refugee is hard because of the need of accepting your own culture before learning the culture of your host country. You end up accepting, at some point, that you are different.”

Elishama would love to go to his family’s country of origin Democratic Republic Congo to live, but it will only be possible, he says, when the war and the violence end. He still has family there and occasionally visits, but due to the country’s instability, permanently relocating is not possible.

“Every time we were about to go, someone in our family told us not to, that the violence was increasing again or there was insecurity. So, still, we have not been able to move back home”

He longs to learn about the Congolese culture in the land of this parents. However, his parents tell him stories, legends and carries out Congolese traditions in the family.

In Kenya, as a refugee, the access to scholarships and other financial support for education is incredibly challenging. Elishama had always been a great student, but the family financial difficulties prevented him from continuing with his education.; until he found JRS.

JRS sponsored his secondary education from the beginning, Form 1  to the last, Form 4 level at St. Joseph Secondary High School in Kiambu County (Kenya) where he emerged the top student in his entire stream.

Elishama is not sure where life will lead him career-wise. However, as for today he would love to pursue a career in engineering, civil or mechanical , which has been his passion since an early age.

I want to become and engineer so that I help others who are in need as I am. This is something my mother taught me: that even at your lowest you can choose to always help people.
Elishama Kyssado
I ask, what message and advice can you share with students beginning their first year of high school. He says,

“I would encourage them to stay away from bad company. A high school is a place where you get to meet different people who might affect you differently, in a positive or a negative way. You must communicate with teachers so they can help you, and you have to be humble”.

Elishama wishes to complete his education and help other people. He notes,
Education is the key to a better future. For anyone who will read this article: don’t give up and always stay focused no matter what
Elishama Kyssado